The current series of oversized rubber stamps evolved as a whimsical tangent to a long-term project I am engaged in that involves casting black rubber tire treads. For me, this piece is about the tyranny of standardization. Damask wallpaper is a trope which connotes opulence and a bygone romantic era, while rubber stamps are frequently associated with bureaucracy and mindless repetition. These giant rubber stamps are hard to control, and their users will struggle to build up a logically repeating pattern. Perhaps they will quickly abandon all attempts at creating order, and succumb to more impulsive, chaotic overlays. In many cases there will be almost enough room for a stamped unit, but not quite, and the pattern will be forced to abruptly end. I am interested in exploring the many possible narratives that might arise from the use of this rudimentary but highly allusive form of mechanical reproduction.
The first step to making this piece was drawing the damask pattern in Illustrator. I spent a month at the end of last summer making the drawing, and then had to refine the mold and rubber-pouring process which I had developed with my first tire tread piece. Unfortunately, there were many more urgent refinements I had to figure out on a tight deadline over the winter break.
Here are a few process pictures of the piece, and me in the amazing new powered air purifying respirator that I purchased with a generous SJSU Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity grant. I wore this every day that I worked on the project–– it protects against both organic vapours and particulates.
Clamping up the block of basswood.
Cautiously beginning to lay out the dimensions.
A very backlit action shot on the lathe, with the camera sitting in the tool cabinet!
The stamp handle takes form on the lathe.
John Pollard of ADA Gallery in Richmond, VA and Mulherin + Pollard Projects in New York, invited me to install the piece in the NY gallery, in a two-person show with artist Jared Lindsay Clark. The show opened last Friday, February 3rd.
"Mechanical Reproduction,"(stamp,) 2012. Cast urethane rubber, neoprene, basswood, paint, hardware.
"Mechanical Reproduction,"view from front door.
All images copyright, Shannon Wright.